Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS is quite a common hormonal disorder in women and is characterized by ovarian cysts. Though all data says that it affects 5 to 10% of women today, from what we see and hear around us, it feels more like one in every three women - especially in the younger age group. In order to solve the problem of PCOS it is important to understand the root cause behind this hormonal disorder and also what the symptoms are so that it can be dealt with in time.
Symptoms of PCOS:
Symptoms of PCOS:
- Weight gain, or inability to lose weight
- absent or irregular periods
- Excess facial hair
- Thinning hair or male pattern baldness
- Acne and other skin problems
- Mood swings
- sluggishness or lethargy
If you feel you're experiencing even half of these symptoms, it's a good idea to consult a doctor and take the necessary blood tests for hormonal levels, and ultrasound for detecting bulky ovaries or ovarian cysts.
Root cause of PCOS. Though there are many causes of PCOS one of the root causes today is insulin resistance or the metabolic syndrome. This is the root cause especially because of the lifestyles we lead as well as carb heavy diets. While most PCOS sufferers are overweight, this condition can even affect the lean. Many are lean but with abdominal obesity, that is when the waist size is disproportionately larger as compared to the rest of the body. This is characteristic of the metabolic syndrome caused by insulin resistance.
PCOS is a hormonal imbalance linked to the way the body processes insulin after it has been produced by the pancreas to regulate blood sugar (glucose).
Insulin Resistance can cause PCOS in two distinct ways. Insulin resistance reduces the insulin sensitivity of your cell walls. Glucose has to pass through those cell walls to be converted into energy. Insulin assists this process. But since the cell walls have become de-sensitized to insulin, by insulin resistance, the process does not work. Glucose "bounces" off the cell wall, instead of passing through the insulin door to be burned as energy. With the cell door almost closed to it, glucose remains in the blood stream, causing elevated levels of blood sugar, which are sent to the liver. Once there, the sugar is converted into fat and stored via the blood stream throughout the body. This process can lead to weight gain and obesity, key factors in creating Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
Insulin resistance raises insulin levels in the blood stream. Unhealthy lifestyles and genetic conditions cause the pancreas to overproduce insulin. The de-sensitized cell in turn, overwhelmed by this excess insulin and an excess of insulin "rejected" by the cell then free-floats in the blood stream, creating unbalanced hormone levels in PCOS sufferers. Excess insulin stimulates the ovaries to produce large amounts of the male hormone testosterone, which may prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg each month, thus causing infertility. High levels of insulin also increase the conversion of androgens (male hormones) to estrogens (female hormones), upsetting a delicate balance between the two and having a direct effect on weight gain and the formation of cystic follicles or cysts in the ovary.
Now that we know that this is main reason behind PCOS in about 70% of cases, the way to tackle this is to take care of the root cause that is insulin resistance. In a subsequent post we will look at a diet specific to those who are insulin resistant. Though many men are also insulin resistant, they have no direct impact to fertility as women do in the form of PCOS and thus tend to ignore this condition, which can lead to many heart diseases and heart attacks in the future.
Therefore it is of utmost importance for both men and women to eat a diet and workout in a way that our cells regain insulin sensitivity.
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